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Feral & Community Cat TNR Program

UPDATED FERAL CAT POLICIES:

  • Due to the sometimes overwhelming number of unscheduled cats, walk-ins are limited to one feral cat per person per day.

  • Friendly outdoor cats require an appointment. Visit our appointments page HERE to make an appointment. If all online appointments are full, email us at aplclinic@apl-shelter.org or call our office at 217-789-7729 for appointment options. 

  • Drop off is from 8-10am M-Th. We try very hard to accommodate all walk-in feral cats. However, if we have reached capacity for the day, we may stop admitting cats. Arriving promptly at 8am will ensure we can take your feral cat that day. 

What is a feral cat?

A feral cat is an unowned, unsocialized cat living outdoors, either alone or in a colony.

 

What is a community cat?

"Community cat" is an umbrella term that refers to any cat who is unowned and living outdoors. At our clinic, we refer to unsocialized outdoor cats as "feral" and socialized outdoor cats as "community cats."

 

Stray and feral cats are responsible for the vast majority of unwanted kittens, and left unchecked, cat populations can grow rapidly. The most humane and effective methods of managing outdoor cat populations is Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR. APL’s Feral Cat Program offers affordable TNR services to caretakers of the community cat population in central Illinois. Community cats can live long, healthy lives, content in their outdoor home if properly cared for.

Community cats will typically establish themselves in an area where shelter and food is readily available either by scavenging (accessible garbage bins or dumpsters) or provided by humans. Their offspring may revert to a wild nature and stay in the same colony continuing to reproduce. With rampant breeding and the onset of problem mating behaviors (fighting, yowling, etc.) unmanaged community cat colonies can quickly become a public nuisance and make up a large portion of the cats euthanized at animal control facilities. 

 

Studies have shown that catching and killing outdoor cats does little or nothing to reduce cat numbers long-term. TNR, is the only proven method of humanely and effectively controlling outdoor cat populations. TNR has been endorsed by national animal welfare groups, as well as many animal control departments as the best option for feral cats and the communities they inhabit.

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How can I help community cats?

If you are feeding, caring for, or seeing stray and feral cats in your neighborhood, you can participate in TNR. These cats can be trapped and brought to the APL Spay/Neuter Clinic, where they will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, tattooed, and ear tipped for a reduced fee. Cats will stay overnight to rest and recover, and then are released back to their caretakers to be returned their home location. 

What is TNR and how does it work?

TNR is the process of trapping feral cats, sterilizing them, vaccinating them, and returning them to their outdoor home. 

 

Here’s how TNR works:

  • A community cat colony is identified.

  • The cats are trapped humanely.

  • The cats are brought to a clinic for spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations.

  • The cats have their left ear “tipped”. An ear tip is the surgical removal of approximately one centimeter of the left ear, which identifies it as an altered cat.

  • The cats are returned to their colony within 24 hours.

  • Caretakers feed and care for the cat colony on a daily basis.

 

TNR has many advantages:

  • Immediately stabilizes the size of colony by eliminating new litters.

  • Dramatically reduces nuisance behavior often associated with feral cats, such as yowling, fighting and odor, making cats better neighbors

  • Fewer cats/kittens flow into shelters, which results in lower euthanasia rates.

  • Cats are vaccinated for rabies and distemper, protecting the cats and the public from disease. 

  • Cats physical health is improved and cats live longer, healthier lives. 

  • It works! Other methods of feral cat management, like catch-and-kill and relocation, do not result in long-term reduction in cat populations. TNR does.

 

How much does it cost? 

We offer reduced-rate surgeries for feral and community cats. If you cannot afford our services, please call our office to discuss. 

Feral cat package: $30, includes spay or neuter, rabies vaccine, distemper vaccine, ear mite treatment, ear tip. 

Community cat package: $40, includes pre-operative brief exam, spay or neuter, rabies vaccine, distemper vaccine, ear mite treatment, ear tip. 

What if the stray cat I'm feeding is friendly? 

  • Have the cat scanned for a microchip and check your local Lost & Found Pets Facebook page to make sure the cat isn't a lost pet.

  • If you determine the cat is unowned and will continue living outdoors, it's considered a "community cat." Community cats can be fixed at our clinic at a reduced rate.

  • Friendly cats require an appointment. Call our office for appointment availability. We reserve several spots each week for community cats. 

 

Feral and Community Cat Policies:

  • Feral cats must come to our clinic in a live trap. If you do not have access to a live trap, you may borrow one from our clinic (open M-F). We take a $50 deposit to ensure the trap's return. Your deposit is returned to you when the trap is returned to us.

  • We typically accept feral cats for spay/neuter 1 at a time without an appointment Monday-Thursday between 8-10am. However, we advise you call our office a few days before coming in to ensure we don't have any planned closures. We are not able to accept cats on days the veterinarians are out. We do not accept feral cats on Fridays.

  • NEW: We are experiencing large numbers of walk-in cats, and occasionally we receive more than we can manage in one day. We suggest you arrive with your feral cat as close to 8am as possible. Once we have reached capacity for the day we may have to stop admitting cats, and you'll be advised to return the following day when more surgery appointments are available. 

  • We take community cats by appointment. Community cats may come to the clinic in a carrier. Visit our appointments page HERE to make an appointment. If all online appointments are full, email us at aplclinic@apl-shelter.org or call our office at 217-789-7729 for appointment options. 

  • Our feral and community cat packages are for outdoor cats only. If you have adopted a once-feral cat as a pet, visit our spay/neuter clinic page for information on pet appointments. 

  • Feral cats should come to the clinic in a secure, live-release trap. For information on borrowing traps or learning how to trap properly call 217-789-7729.

  • Please cover the cat’s trap with a towel or blanket. This will help minimize stress for the cat. You may also line the bottom of carriers with absorbent newspaper.

  • All feral and community cats will receive spay or neuter, rabies and distemper vaccinations, ear mite treatment, and an ear tip. Cats in Sangamon County will receive a microchip. Ear tips are mandatory.

  • We will treat, to the best of our abilities, injuries like abscesses, wounds, lacerations, aural hematomas, etc. Feral cats exhibiting signs of severe illness may be declined. Please call the clinic for more information if you see an injured stray cat.

  • Cats may have food and water until the morning of surgery.

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